Promise Scholarship

Promise Scholar Emma Fielder speaks as Iowa West Foundation President Pete Tulipana and Promise Scholar Jacob Brunton sit beside her.

Students attending Iowa Western Community College as part of the Pottawattamie Promise program are beating their peers when it comes to grade-point average, retention and graduation, according to an Iowa Western official.

The Pottawattamie Promise cohort that started in 2015 achieved a GPA of 2.38/4.00 during their first semester at Iowa Western, compared to 1.84 for other beginning full-time, Pell grant-eligible students, Tori Christie, vice president of student services, said at the college board of trustees meeting last week.

The Pottawattamie Promise annual report for 2017-2018 shows that 84 percent of the students stayed in school in spring 2016, 66 percent continued in fall 2016 and 55 percent remained for spring 2017. In comparison, 73 percent of their peers were still in school in spring 2016, 43 percent in fall 2016 and 37 percent in spring 2017.

Of the cohort of 44 students, 16 students, or 36 percent, went on to earn either an associate degree or a certificate, compared to 25 percent of their peers.

The 2016 cohort earned a GPA of 2.7 for their first semester at Iowa Western, while their peers scored 1.8. Retention was 84 percent for spring 2017, 60 percent for fall 2017 and 49 percent for spring 2018, compared to 70 percent, 51 percent and 43 percent for their peers.

Of the 61 students in the cohort, 23 students, or 38 percent, earned associate degrees.

One member of the 2017 cohort has already earned an associate degree because of credits earned during high school.

The program continues to grow as eligibility is extended to more schools, Christie said. It started with Council Bluffs Community School District and Riverside Community School District. The Lewis Central Community School District and Avoca-Hancock-Shelby-Tennant-Walnut were added in 2017. This year, sophomores from Tri-Center Community School District were allowed to apply.

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“We still have Underwood and Treynor to go,” she said. “We won’t be adding either of them this year, but next year we’ll be adding both of them.”

The program, started by the Iowa West Foundation in April 2015, is made possible by a partnership among area foundations, Pottawattamie County school districts and Iowa Western Community College.

Students apply as high school sophomores and take a college readiness course their junior years and college statistics as seniors. Besides full-ride scholarships, students are provided with wrap-around services that address academic and psycho-social needs.

The Iowa West Foundation, AKSARBEN Foundation and Peter Kiewit Foundation have been the chief funding sources.

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